iPad to drive demand for natural user interfaces

iPad, tablets, and touchscreen smartphones require enterprises to rethink user experiences

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Next, add Walt Mossberg's review of the iPad:

I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop. It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades.

If the iPad can live up to even half of its hype, enterprises will soon begin to target it as they have the iPhone and iPod Touch. For instance, here's a great iPhone application from USAA that lets users deposit checks by taking a picture of the check. Appcelerator just released mobile developer survey data that continues to show interest in building applications for devices that enable natural user interfaces, such as the iPad, iPhone, and Android platform.

Broad reach or highly tailored experience

One of the biggest challenges that enterprises face in building useful, usable, and desirable user experiences is selecting the device to design for. An application that receives rave reviews from iPad users won't necessarily run on an Android device or a BlackBerry. Open source mobile app dev products from PhoneGap, Appcelerator, and Rhomobile seek to address this issue by insulating developers and applications from the underlying mobile device the application will run on.

It remains to be seen whether enterprises will select the device-agnostic or native-device route when designing new application experiences. The former approach allows the enterprise to reach a larger customer base than the latter approach does -- a very important consideration when facing constrained IT budgets.

If the mobile device and operating system race ends in a two-horse race between iPhone/iPod/iPad and Android, we may well see enterprises targeting each with native applications. However, today, the BlackBerry and Symbian platforms are too large to ignore. In any case, now would be a good time for IT departments to begin proof of concepts to consider whether a device-agnostic or native-device application is appropriate for the needs of the business and its users.

As a user, I can't help but get excited about these new user experiences. Oh, and I still want flying cars.

Follow me on Twitter at: SavioRodrigues. I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

This article, "iPad to drive demand for natural user interfaces," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Rodrigues et al.'s Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source and mobile computing at InfoWorld.com.

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